Pro-market, not pro-business

A pro-market strategy aims to encourage the best conditions for doing business, for everyone. Large banks, for instance, benefit from trading derivatives (such as credit default swaps) over the counter, rather than in an organized exchange: they can charge wider spreads that way, and they can afford to post less collateral by using their credit ratings. For this reason, they oppose moving such trades to organized exchanges, where transactions would be conducted with greater transparency, liquidity, and collateralization—and so with greater financial stability. This is where a pro-market party needs the courage to take on the financial industry on behalf of everyone else.

A pro-market strategy rejects subsidies not only because they’re a waste of taxpayers’ money but also because they prop up inefficient firms, delaying the entry of new and more efficient competitors. For every “zombie” firm that survives because of government assistance, several innovative start-ups don’t get the chance to be born. Subsidies, then, hurt taxpayers twice. A genuinely pro-market party would have resisted more vigorously the Wall Street bailouts, in line with popular sentiment.

And a pro-market approach holds companies financially accountable for their mistakes—an essential policy if free markets are to produce sound decisions. A pro-market party will fight tirelessly against letting firms become so big that they cannot be allowed to fail, since such firms may take risks that ordinary companies would never dream of.

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